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Dr. Kelly Elizabeth Wright


Watch a quick clip from the Q&A of the Oxford English Dictionary panel on Language Prejudice and the Documentation of the Minoritizied Varieties of English 

Watch a clip from Canadian news on the trucker convoy of 2021 and the word freedom.

Don't know what Sociolinguistics is? Check out this CrashCourse video!


I am an Experimental Sociolinguist and Lexicographer actively advocating for equitable access and treatment of all signers, writers, and speakers. 


I approach the project of disabling institutionalized linguistic oppression by conducting policy-driven research. Such work identifies a gap in a community's human rights or needs which could be better served with more robust evidence of a given linguistic phenomenon at play. I fight with fact, ever-confident in the overwhelming power of empirical validity.


The public work of a scholar-activist demands access to a range of research tools gathering data across a number of domains. I employ equity grounded, co-creation based, mixed methods including:

machine learning 

network analysis 

massive text and metadata corpora mining

from the historical print record, in real time and over time,

perceptualcognitive, and psycholinguistic experimentation inside the laboratory,

ethnographic and sociolinguistic fieldwork out in the world,

and decentralized and experiential pedagogies in the classroom.  


My dissertation, available here, researches perceptions of Black professionalism, both within the community through a newly developed, metalinguistic, method for sociolinguistic interview and in the population at large through sociophonetic experimentation.


In the June 2023 edition of Language is a project on linguistic profiling in the housing market, looking specifically at how property managers perceive racial and regional identities, link those percepts to character traits, and how those ideas about speakers shape access and opportunity for minorities.


Previously, my research has examined Language Planning & Policy; reification of racist ideology through popular print media; and Sociosemantic Field development and change over time.

I am currently serving as:

I am the Secretary and Incoming Convener of NARNiHS (The North American Research Network in Historical Sociolinguistics), which works to increase the visibility of Historical Sociolinguistics as a discipline and the connectedness of researchers in North America.

I sit on the leadership board of the Virginia Tech Hip Hop Studies Program, "Digging in the Crates".

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